Lawmakers (and Artists) Fight Those Facial Recognition Frown Lines


Ewa Nowak’s jewelry: “Incognito” by design

A sponsored post popped up on my Instagram last week that captured my obsession with statement jewelry and my periodic check on developments in facial recognition technology: “Artist Designs Metal Jewelry to Block Facial Recognition Software from Tracking You”. Statement jewelry? Check. An indication of how stressed out people are by facial recognition technology? I think so. While an experimental project, it’s not a far stretch to imagine the design actually being sold and purchased.

As the article explains, the artist’s design, called “Incognito,” actually works: the artist, Ewa Nowak, writes on her website she based her design on how an actual social media facial recognition algorithm tracks faces. In another article, Nowak explained that she was inspired by the light-up glasses invented by Japan’s Institute of Informatics back in 2013 to block facial recognition technology. Those glasses used near-infrared lighting, which is invisible to the human eye but is picked up by cameras, to block the area around the eyes.

As I wrote about in March of this year, lawmakers are also taking an active approach to addressing the public’s stress about the wide-ranging use and implications of facial recognition technology. Since the Commercial Facial Recognition Privacy Act was introduced in March, several other similar laws have passed or been proposed. These laws range from outright banning facial recognition technology to regulating it. Three cities—San Francisco, Oakland and Somerville, Mass.—have passed laws banning the government from using facial recognition technology. A second federal bill, the No Biometric Barriers to Housing Act, was introduced in July and would ban the use of facial recognition technology in public housing units that receive funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The bill would also require HUD to submit a report on the impact of facial recognition technology on public housing units and their tenants. While the bill would only affect public housing, it could shed light on how facial recognition technology is used in contexts beyond social media and law enforcement. Vox reports that another federal, bipartisan bill is in the works targeting facial recognition, though whether this bill bans or regulates facial recognition technology is still TBD.

We’ll continue to monitor developments in laws targeting facial recognition and how existing laws and proposals either banning or regulating the tech play out. In the meantime, consider some face jewelry to hide those stress wrinkles.


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